Friday, April 30, 2010
If you can believe it, they sold 43 pies in the first hour alone. I'm also told they WILL be serving beer and wine tonight. So you don't have to get liquored up elsewhere, you can now do it while chowing down on your pizza. Sometimes life is good.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
While Pacci's plans to do breakfast (as well as serve late night crowds on Friday and Saturday nights -- 1 AM I think), it doesn't appear to be ready quite yet. You'll have to wait or look elsewhere for your espresso and croissant. However, you won't have to wait too long tomorrow, since Friday evening they will be throwing up their doors to the pizza-hungry public.
I'll also point out one more thing for opening day at Pacci's -- no alcohol. So, if you're inclined, you may want to get liquored up elsewhere before walking, cabbing, metro-ing or grabbing a designated driver to get your pie fix. Because of MoCo's liquor laws, the restaurant is waiting till Saturday, May 1 to serve beer and wine. If they served on April 30, they'd have to pay the full month's rate for the license -- no pro-rating here. So to save a bit of dough -- pun intended -- those eating at Pacci's on the first night will have to do without the good stuff.
But it'll still be worth it. I didn't mention the other day the famous Italian flour (Caputo -- double zero) that Rosario, the pizzaiola at Pacci's, uses to make the pies. It makes a mean dough. But they'll be other fine offerings too -- salad, several apps, stromboli-style sandwiches, and of course for sweets they will be serving gelati -- straight from Takoma Park.
And since the place is not too big, I'm guessing it's gonna fill up fast. I think in total they have 15 tables, about a dozen stools next to the bar and then another dozen stools facing the side window. Also when the weather cooperates the outdoor section will open things up to feed a lot more people. It looks like the weather will be good on Friday, so we shall see.
All right, I'm already hungry. Quando mangiamo?
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
8407, Jackie's, Pacci's, Mandalay, Quarry House, Ghar-e-Kabob, Olazzo, + +, you know, we're doing pretty good for what some consider a suburban backwater location that only has room for chain restaurants. They need to come by and check it out for themselves.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
First off, I am very happy Pedro and Nancy are back in
I’m also very pleased that Pedro is making a serious effort to support local farmers and vendors as many of the items you’ll find on the menu have come from within 100 miles or less. In addition, Pedro and staff are making their pasta homemade (gnocchi and tagliatelle) and the meats for the charcuterie are being cured in-house. A tour of the kitchen shows that a back corner is being used to hang prosciutto, and he has also done a little DIY fridge where the temperature can be closely monitored to assist in that process. Seeing cured meats hanging from the kitchen ceiling has a definite appeal for me as my Italian relatives still do this back home in Abruzzo.
OK, on to the review. While I don’t want to go all Sietsema on you (and btw, he has a short write-up in today’s Post on 8407), I did want to point out some of the highlights of my meals and I won’t say lowlights, but areas I believe where improvements are needed.
I’ll start with the lunch. While it’s not uncommon to find mussels on our area menus, 8407 does a very good job with their version. You’re served a decent-sized portion – good for a starter for two – of wild Johnny Blue mussels (from
An additional lunch standout – for carnivores – is the charcuterie sandwich. Depending on the day, the sandwich is a mix of typically 3 meats. My version had a couple different kinds of pork and Pedro’s house made mortadella. While the sandwich was great, I will say the pork overwhelmed the more delicate mortadella. That mortadella is so good – best I’ve had in the states – and should be ordered simply as part of a charcuterie board or Pedro needs to find a way so that its flavor and texture isn’t compromised to the degree it was. For the vegetarians out there, you’ll be more than happy if your lunch order is one of the salads. The version we had with field greens, judion beans, marcona almonds – love them – and tarragon dressing was a nice complement to our meat-filled sandwich. Also, the salad is quite big for a lunch entrée. I’m sure it could be ordered on its own and would fill up most folks.
On to the dinners -- let’s start with something raw. How about the oysters? Sampling the
If you want to skip the ocean on your starters, then as I mentioned before, go for the charcuterie. I’ve already raved about the mortadella, but the duck prosciutto is also a winner, very rich, as well as the salami. Order some cured meats and mix them with a couple different cheeses – 2 local standouts are the Grayson and Monocacy Ash, and if you’re in the mood for some sheep’s milk cheese, the Dante from
All right, let’s get serious and talk about entrees. I’ll start with my favorite – the jumbo lump
Another dinnertime winner is Pedro’s gnocchi. It kills me to say it, but the 8407 version is better than mine. I’ll chalk it up to the pillowy dumplings being lightly pan-fried before they are served. Mine are a bit more traditional. The parmesan coulis with which it is served seems to mesh quite well with the gnocchi. If you remember this dish from Nicaro, and you liked it, you’ll like it here too. I was less exited about the duck. And maybe it’s less the dish and more that duck is not my fave meat – that’s at least what my wife says. So while I enjoyed the dish, I simply found the duck a bit too dry and orange-soy glaze wasn’t enough to make me want to order it again. On the other hand, as I’ve said before my meat du jour is quail. And so for dinner one night Pedro indulged me and doubled up an order of a quail appetizer that turned into a perfect entrée. I believed it was broiled and served with a sauce that included lemon zest and a couple other ingredients on which I am blanking. Either way, I give it 2 thumbs up.
And surprisingly, the halibut is not as good as one might expect. I have not ordered it myself yet, but 3 friends have ordered it and again while they all liked the dish, it seemed to fall short of what they expected. As one said after he finished the dish, “my socks are still on.” Maybe if you’re in the mood for a seafood dish, go for the seared scallops. I thought these were delicately seared and served in a wonderfully-tasty beurre blanc sauce. In addition, the pea shoots that come with the dish are fantastic. I could have eaten a plate of those all by themselves.
One other note about the entrees, don't expect much to accompany them -- not withstanding the pic of the halibut. It seems several of the dishes came simply on their own and others didn't have much company. As with the halibut, I'd like to see 8407 give a bit more thought to pairing their entrees with a bit more substance - starches or greens - so that a side order is not necessary.
OK, I’ve gone on long enough. I will say the desserts we’ve tried we have liked – the chocolate tart and homemade ice creams are both quite nice and the rhubarb crisp with ginger ice cream was also one I would order again. We were less excited about the cookies and milk. Kinda kitschy, but kinda forgettable too.
On the drinks, everyone seems to love the 8407 Pimms and the ginger lime martini also got high marks. I can say that the draft Pilsner Urquell was much to my liking and the bartenders make a mean Hendricks gimlet. I know - that is bar low, gin and rose's, it's not rocket science.
If I use the WaPo/Sietsema rating system, I’ll would give 8407 2 ½ stars right now – putting it in the good/excellent category. However I don’t think the restaurant will have to reach far to move to 3 stars (excellent). While this might seem odd to say about a place that’s only been open for just over one month, but Pedro Matamoros and Nancy Mola know what they are doing and perfected many things during their time at Nicaro and have successfully transferred their winning ways to this new establishment and are beginning to take them to the next level. I am more than happy to go along for that ride.
Friday, April 9, 2010
I spoke to one of the principals behind Fire Station 1 (8131 Georgia Ave) the other day and got the lowdown. I was told they hope to open within the next 30 days, but we all know how that works in Montgomery County. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed for more like 45 days. Which will be fine with me. We'll have plenty of spring left and be ready to cool off from our hot summer days with some cold beer.
If you've driven by lately you've seen the new roofing being installed. And while the place may not look like it'll be ready for prime time in the next month or so, the storefront is scheduled to be installed next week, so I'm guessing that will give it the appearance of a restaurant ready to serve hungry and thirsty customers.
More importantly, the bar will be installed in about 2 weeks and for food, the kitchen is already in. FS1 is still short on staff however. They've hired about 1/3 of the people they need, but will still be holding more job fairs to fill the remaining positions.
In addition, I know there were questions from when I mentioned FS1 in a previous blog entry concerning their connection to Hook & Ladder. Now while our new place will not be a H&L bar, they will be serving 3 or 4 H&L brews, but folks will have a lot of other choices too since they will have 12 taps. I like the sound of that. And beyond that, some of the founders connected with H&L are behind FS1 -- although to be fair, they are two different entities. It appeared there were a few too many glitches for our new place to become a H&L brewpub. And so the folks behind FS1 stepped in to save the day.
FS1 plans to be open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week, and will offer brunch on the weekends. You can check out their menu on the website. Looks like pretty much what you'd expect -- calamari, O rings, salads, pizza, sandwiches and some full on entrees too. I typically never expect a bar which has a strong focus on beer to serve great food, but I'm hoping FS1 convinces me otherwise.
A couple other notes, the place will be pretty kid friendly (I guess as much as a bar can). They purchased a fire engine for the kids to play on and will have larger rooms available for b-day parties. For the adults -- besides good beer- they plan to have live music from Thurs to Sat.
That's all I have for now. I'll keep me eye on the construction progress and wish them to luck to finish on time. I'm parched already.